Bubble Riding

January 4, 2011 at 22:34 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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This Christmas, I asked Santa for a bubble machine. I had obviously been a good boy, as he obliged, and I was the proud recipient of an Early Learning Centre bubble-o-matic, compete with batteries and a large bottle of bubble mixture.

A quick test showed that it was capable of producing a large volume of bubbles, much to the delight of Baby Chillikebab, and the even greater delight of her father.

A little ingenuity was needed to mount the rather smooth, rounded machine to the back of the Radish, but once a bubble-machine mounting accessory was improvised I was ready for my first bubble-ride!

The idea of riding along, leaving a trail of bubbles in my wake is a charming one*, but I cannot claim credit for the original idea. It was actually suggested to me by a friend who had in seen someone riding a bike in Pyrmont with a bubble machine attached. Whoever this nameless cyclist is, I take my hat (helmet?!!) off to them, and duly acknowledge their originality and wit.

So what is bubble-riding like? Well, it’s lots of fun, and certainly gets you some attention. Almost as soon as I set off, someone waiting at the bus stop at the end of my street called out ‘That is awesome!’, and rushed to find his friend to point it out. Pedestrians and motorists smiled as I went past. Children especially seemed quite entranced. My mission was to spread joy and happiness, and I think I probably succeeded. The machine seemed to go into overdrive whilst queuing to get out of the fish markets; a massive cloud of bubbles just filled the intersection, giving a fun, human dimension to a bleak landscape of elevated motorways, traffic lanes and concrete.

I did have a few technical issues with the bubble machine, which is clearly not designed for portable operation. The bubble mixture has a tendency to slop out of the machine; this is a particular problem when it slops out of the back, and into the fan mechanism. The fan blades quickly create a large amount of foam, which blocks the air intake and strains the motor. This significantly reduces or even stops bubble production. The machine also works less well where it is windy. So my advice for anyone wanting to try this for themselves would be to not put too much mixture in the machine (just take more with you and refill as you go), do your bubble-riding on a calm day, and try and ride smoothly, keeping the bike upright.

Those minor issues aside, I was very pleased with my bubble-riding experiences. Whilst I haven’t yet done any peak-time bubble-riding, my sense is that it does make people smile, and perhaps might reduce the incidence of motoring aggression. As a way of making yourself conspicuous, it probably beats wearing flouro!

What I’d now like to do is recruit a small army of bubble-riders, and take to the streets en-masse. Now what a sight that would be!

*You may have other words for it than ‘charming’. Like ‘bonkers’, for example…

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